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Hi, you may have learned about the stock market this week. Why? Because hedge funds held short positions on GameStop, and retail traders noticed it, organized online, boosted the stock, then short-squeezed it. (Still confused? Go here.) In the aftermath—not that it’s really over!—a few discussions have bubbled up beyond this GameStop-infused moment. One idea floating around is to tax financial transactions as we used to do in the United States from 1914 to 1965.

That tax was also mentioned in the pages of Mother Jones—as our own CEO, Monika Bauerlein, pointed me to—back in 2013, in a piece on the post–Lehman Brothers economy and the growth of high-frequency trading. You can read the piece here. It chronicles the increase of trades made within seconds through algorithms.

There is an eerie post-recession feel to the fears of mass financialization in this one. Wall Street then, as now, was remote from real value unless it is crashing—then it could ruin your life. The potential of “quants” and math wizards making something so complex that it ends up being stupid is, it seems, high; greed reigns supreme. I’ll leave the analogies to you for our current moment. Take old data with a grain of salt. Here is the actual proposal for a tax on financial transactions from the piece so you know it really is possible to, at the very least, conceive of: 

In a more far-reaching proposal, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) have proposed levying a financial-transactions tax—they suggest 0.03 percent—on each trade, as a way of discouraging churn and raising revenue. (The United States had such a tax until 1966.) Economists, activists, and even some finance big shots—Warren Buffett among them—have endorsed the idea. “Even at the modest level we’ve proposed, [the tax] would raise $35 billion a year, which would either be used to defray the deficit or be used for job-creating investments by the government,” DeFazio told me. Eleven European Union countries (though not the United Kingdom) are pressing ahead with the idea—and they’ve talked about a tax as high as 0.1 percent. Wall Street lobbyists have pushed back against both speed limits and bringing back the transaction tax.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

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